The Loss We've Won
Updated: Apr 22
Americana songs about family, marriage, parenting, getting old ... and human extinction.
Mike Butler has been our producer for all of the post-2019 Anders/O'Bitz releases. Mike and I are currently working on a 12-song project that will probably be released during the spring of 2022.
Mark co-wrote all but one of the songs on this album but he won't be involved with the production as much as he has been in the past. With The Loss We've Won I was inspired to give Mike more freedom as the producer. I was inspired by the work Mike did on three Anders/O'Bitz songs where Mike played most or all of the instruments and did all of the production himself: "Matterbloomlight (Revisited)," "Judgement Day," and "Careful Now My Son."
The inspiration for The Loss We've Won comes especially from what Mike did with "Careful Now My Son": he took a rock demo and transformed it into what we all consider an Americana gem that beautifully worked with my stark lyrics. I am currently working on the rock version of "Careful Now My Son" for our So Far Gone release, which will also be produced by Mike Butler. The Loss We've Won will lean a lot more toward an Americana style we've usually just tilted toward.
Not every song on The Loss We've Won will go through they type of radical Butlerian transformation that "Careful Now My Son" went through, and none of them will end up in quite the same edgier style as "Careful Now My Son." We've kept the style softer, an even more singer-songwriter and acoustic Americana than our prior Americana work.
"The loss we've won" is part of the last line in the chorus of our song, "Our Load" (Anders/O'Bitz 2021), which is one of the newest songs in our current batch:
Our load is to carry forth
On some path that’s way too long
Our load is to hear the cries
All daughters and all sons
Our load is a soul to come
After all is said and done
Our load is to lose it all
And love the loss we’ve won
For me, the lyricist, "the loss we've won" is all we've won in life, which then leads to all that is lost in the end--so the loss we've won is all that we've won and then have to give up in the end. There is no "winning" without "losing" if all of life (and death) is taken into consideration.
A more personal and idiosyncratic reading is that "the loss we've won" is mostly about family ... how my wife and kids feel more and more central to my life, more and more primary, with each year that passes. As in the song "One Life," "our life" becomes "one life."
This project started with the working title "family songs." I think of some of these songs as "family-marriage songs." A couple of them--like "One Life" and "Our Load"-- were written late in 2021. Others were written long ago. Some of these older songs never got released because they might have seemed too sentimental to me at the time ... too personal when it came time for deciding which songs to put on various projects.
The ones that sat on the proverbial shelf (some for over a decade) because they felt too sentimental or personal were "Young Eyes" (from 2002, a song about being a child of a celebrity and the first song I ever wrote) and "Family Song" (from 2016, the only song I've written explicitly about my wife and three children).
"Above Below" and "Set Our Fate" are examples of non-autobiographical family-marriage songs that did not make it through the production process without getting shelved. They both got shelved during the initial recording sessions for Of All These Things at Electrokitty Studios in the Wallingford neighborhood of Seattle in 2017. It became clear, early in the recording process, that the record versions of these two songs would end up sounding too much like clichéd classic rock songs. I believe our Americana style can "carry" this kind of sentiment better than a classic rock style, or the singer-songwriter style in which they were created.
There are two songs on The Loss We've Won that were originally released on my debut album, Not At One (2003): "Not At One" and "Wearily." I wish these songs would have been done in this Butlerian Americana style back in 2003. I like these newer versions significantly more than the originals.
This album will be our most deliberately Americana project yet, even more so than American Bardo. The album cover for The Loss We've Won--with its nod to my father's 1968 photo, "Earthrise," and to a surreal "great again" 50's drive-in on the moon--seemed about as Americana as I could imagine.
Also--during these times of covid, climate change, and Trumpism--it seems to me that the whole world could be lost due to all the "winning" we Americans have been experiencing since the days of the space race and when drive-ins were all the rage ... all the "winning" that is making us--and the world in general--so very sick and tired:
Trump: 'We’re going to win so much, you’re going to be so sick and tired of winning.'
All this "winning" is reflected in the last line of the movie Don't Look Up. Dr. Mindy (Leonardo DiCaprio) says, just before the blast from the meteor's crash into earth destroys everyone at his table ... and in the world:
"The thing of it is we really … we really did have everything, didn’t we? I mean, if you think about it."
In the film, all that "winning" didn't just make us--the world's population, humankind--"sick and tired." All that "winning" helped the meteor kill everyone ... just as all the winning we've done with fossil fuels will help the climate kill everyone ... everyone in the world ... and everyone in the not-at-all-distant future.
Will my grandkids experience any "winning"? This is the "winning" my kids and their kids will inherit, the loss they will "win." Hopefully, my kids and grandkids will figure out a way to deflect that huge meteor heading toward earth, that "extinction-level event" we call climate change.
Hopefully, we will deflect all the "winning" the MAGA crowd wants to return us to.
Somehow, the surreal drive-in on the moon suggested all this to me, as well as the precariousness of earth's perch in the emptiness of space, which I think my dad's photograph really captures well. Very sublime. as I wrote about before.
Updated by Eric Anders, 4/19/22